First Amendment News

Alarms and lawsuits over Trump administration’s failure to create records

The State Department and its chief Mike Pompeo are being sued for failure to create and preserve State Department records. The National Security Archive, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government, and Historians of American Foreign Relations already sued the State Department last May for not keeping records of meetings with foreign leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The current lawsuit comes after Ambassador Gordon Sondland made sure

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Facebook flagging in efforts to curb fake news

As the 2020 elections near, phony news stories have multiplied on Facebook with 62 percent of the stories going against liberals or Democrats and 29 percent against Republicans or conservatives. Avaaz, a group that tracks misinformation, announced these findings last week. (The Hill, November 6, 2019, by Marty Johnson) A report out of Oxford University in September revealed that Facebook was the preferred forum for governments and political parties bent on distributing fake news. The

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Flaws in whistleblower laws revealed in current hoopla

With President Donald Trump threatening whistleblowers, a survey of the whistleblower laws reveals serious rents in their protective shields. Whistleblowers are best protected if they go through official channels provided in the laws rather than go directly to the press. While the government may not punish a whistleblower, a president could, as Trump is doing, use his position to threaten and castigate. The Inspector General may not identify the whistleblower, but there is no barrier

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Courts in European Union can order Facebook to remove illegal content

The European Union’s Court of Justice ruled that Facebook must remove content around the world if it is illegal, as in defamatory, in one European Union country. The ruling held that local judges could order Facebook to remove illegal content. Facebook argued that such a ruling would hurt freedom of expression. The ruling was made in the case of an Austrian legislator who wanted Facebook to delete defamatory posts from an anonymous user. (Politico, October

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Schiff has free speech defense in Trump charge of treason

Cass R. Sunstein, in Bloomberg News, October 2, 2019, argues that President Donald Trump’s Twitter post that Rep Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, should be investigated for fraud and treason shows a “heinous” disregard of the Constitution. The Constitution narrowly defines treason as bringing war against the U.S. or giving “Aid and Comfort” to the country’s enemies. In this narrow definition, writes Sunstein, the founders were protecting dissent and opposition as represented

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